Happy Tuesday! I am now onto my travel diary for day 3 & 4 of Christchurch! These have been the best yet and have been so enjoyable (and also a little stressful at one point). Basically, the two main things we did both days were pre booked attractions and both lived up to the hype that was surrounding them on trip advisor! The Christchurch Gondola and the International Antarctic Center! These took up most of each day and so we didn’t really get around to much else, but the fun had on both two attractions made up for this! Hope this update is informative and enjoyable! We are having a great trip and I am so excited to see where the rest of this trip takes us! Happy reading!
Morning had arrived on the 24th of June 2019 and we were excited for the day ahead. Today was the day we had planned to do the gondola and try out some of the coastal walks or hikes (we weren’t too sure exactly which one). We left our apartment pretty quickly after we had woken, as we had slept in past our alarms (again). It seems that the darkness of the apartment in the morning makes it extremely difficult for us to become motivated to get out of bed. We grabbed a short Uber to Drexels. This was an American/kiwi style-diner, which served the corresponding breakfast. We had waffles and pancakes and hash browns galore and it was delicious.
We finished up at breakfast and headed over to the Westfield next door to the diner. As expected, the shops in this complex were nearly all but a few – a perfect match to those back home In Australia. Annalise attempted to get her nails re-done but the parlour did not take credit card… weird. Eventually, we left the Westfield and decided we would just book the $50 Uber to the Godley Head Walk. A good idea… so we thought.
We had been driving for a bit and began to get confused as to why and how we had ended up on a tight gravel road spiralling around the mountain ranges, a long distance away from the actual city of Christchurch. As our Uber finally pulled to a halt on the top of a mountain we realised we had absolutely no clue where we were or where we were supposed to be. The worst part; neither did our Uber driver, who had already mentioned that the tight bends on the mountain were scary to drive around. We took some photos at the top and then decided that it was best to just get the Uber back into the city area, considering we were quite literally lost and in the middle of no where. We were too far away from the Gondola which we had booked for 3:30pm, that even if we did find the walk and hike the track, it would have been after three before we reached a spot accessible to get an Uber to the Gondola.
We arrived at the Gondola early, as we just decided to go there and wait the couple of hours before our time slot (in hindsight; we could probably of asked to go on early as it was a quiet day). It was no big deal though as we decided to hike up the Bridle Head Walk, which was an uphill walk to the top of the mountain. We stopped to take some photos along the way and eventually made it to the top (which was definitely worth it). The views from the top were absolutely incredible. It was a 360 degree view of Christchurch and Lyttelton and the surrounding bodies of water and mountains. We spend about 20 minutes up the top before heading down to the bottom. Let me say; the walk down was ten times easier.
All things combined, it ended up being around 3 by the time we were ready to head onto the Gondola. So we entered the ride early and headed up at 3:00pm. It took about 5 minutes up to the top of the mountain, with spectacular views on the way up! After we reached the top, we were extremely hungry, as we hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. We grabbed some food and a smoothie and sat down in the cafeteria for about 20 minutes. It wasn’t long before we were up again and heading outside to view some more 360 views of the area, spanning over the mountains. There was also a small train ride, which you could do indoors, that gave an informative insight into the history of Christchurch (It was actually really cute). After a while of looking around, we walked down the stairs off the building to the mountain itself and walked around on top. We were actually quite shocked as to how little protection there was, as in there wasn’t really any security, gates or fences stopping anyone from just walking or climbing right off the mountain. However, that made it feel a lot more authentic and freeing.
We awaited the arrival of sunset as the temperature dropped continuously with the lowering sun and the increased wind speeds. The sun set, we got our photos and as quickly as we took them, headed down the gondola before it closed.
We headed back to our apartment for a quick hour and half before we headed out to dinner, which we had booked at Madam Woo, which was a great Asian cuisine restaurant nearby. The food and staff were both delightful and well worth it. Plus both food and cocktails were really reasonably priced! Other than that though, this concluded our day and afterwards we headed back to the apartment for a good night sleep.
Let’s start day four out of the apartment. We arrived at our destination for the day, which happened to be the International Antarctic Centre. We had never originally planned to go to this attraction but it turns out it is one of the main attractions tourists love. So we brought a ticket (we found a cheaper ticket through bookme.co.nz) and went. We started off with a Hagglund ride. These are the transport used to manoeuvre around on the ice in Antartica. They are extremely versatile and incredible sturdy vehicles that can compete with the harshest terrain and weather conditions. Therefore, in order to experience this, we strapped in and went through an obstacle course which was supposed to mimic the conditions in Antarctica. It was super informative, with narration from the driver and also really fun!
Next stop was the penguin feeding. The penguin enclosure was just like any other, except the penguins here were not bred in captivity for entertainment purposes. This centre considers itself a welfare centre for these penguins, as they are all disabled or have some significant issue with them physically. One had been run over, some had eye damage, brain damage etc. These were little penguins, and are the smallest in the world, and I can tell you, they were the cutest little animals.
Back tracking slightly, we went back to one of the first attractions of the centre, which we had to wait until 11:30am to utilise. This was the Antarctic storm simulation, which was a room designed to look similar to Antarctica and simulate a storm that one may experience if on the continent. We had to get extra layers on and enter the building, before awaiting the storm, and as we waited the temperature dropped and dropped as the wind speed continuously picked up its pace. We were eventually standing in minus sixteen degrees wind temperatures. We also met and made great conversation with an incredibly lovely woman and her two boys, who were so much fun (and who we kept seeing throughout the entire tour of the centre until we left). After we left the simulation we went over to a small contraption which allowed you to place your hands down this hole into ice which was supposed to mimic how it would feel to place your hands in the freezing waters of Antartica. The challenge was to make one minute, which with pain, Annalise and I both did. Although, we both had numb hands afterwards.
We eventually had some lunch before heading back into the tour to experience the 4D cinema experience, the informative section which explains, demonstrates and allows interactive interaction with all the aspects of Antarctica. I watched a short documentary about penguins, while Annalise explored the info graphs on life in Antarctica. We then both tried on the gear used by individuals in the past who who would travel to the continent for research purposes. Finally, there was a HD movie experience, which was just a not-so-HD screening of a documentary on Antarctica (without any narration). So it wasn’t long before we headed out to the gift shop before sitting back down to wait for the huskies to finish their lunch break.
The huskies were adorable. We went into their pen and got to sit with them, pat them, take photos with them and just learn about them in general from a really informative guide. We spend about 5-10 minutes with them before deciding it was time to Uber back, as we were both tired from the past days and needed an afternoon of chilling and editing.
The later it got, the more we decided that we would just stay in that night rather than go out to a restaurant for dinner. A good decision, considering the next morning would be the day we would be getting up to leave for Queenstown anyway. So we had suitcases to organise and last minute editing to do before we left.